Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to officially enter the presidential race next week, allowing him to raise the vast amounts of cash he will need to challenge former President Donald J. Trump, according to two people familiar with his intentions.
Mr. DeSantis is expected to file paperwork declaring his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission ahead of a major fund-raising meeting with donors in Miami on May 25 that is meant to act as a show of his financial force. He must formally enter the race before he can solicit donations for his presidential campaign.
He is also likely to release a video to coincide with his official entrance into the race, and a blitz of events in the early nominating states will follow in the weeks ahead, according to one of the people. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Mr. DeSantis would file the paperwork next week.
Mr. Trump is running roughly 30 percentage points ahead of Mr. DeSantis in national polling averages, but the Florida governor would be the most credible Republican challenger to join the field so far.
He is likely to start with more money in an outside group than any Republican primary candidate in history. He has more than $80 million expected to be transferred from his state account to his super PAC, Never Back Down, which has also raised more than $30 million, in addition to having tens of millions more in donor commitments, according to people familiar with the fund-raising.
Mr. DeSantis also has a long series of conservative policy accomplishments that he shepherded through Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature after his landslide re-election last year. And he has gathered a large number of endorsements from state legislators in Iowa and New Hampshire, who can be influential in primary elections, as well as from those in his own state.
Still, taking on Mr. Trump, whom Republicans rallied behind after he was indicted in New York, is a tall order. While the former president savages him daily, Mr. DeSantis needs to engage in a delicate dance.
To win, he must appeal to the large numbers of Republican primary voters who like Mr. Trump but may be ready to move on from a candidate who lost in 2020 and continues to repeat false claims about that election. Doing so requires Mr. DeSantis to differentiate himself from Mr. Trump without criticizing him so aggressively that he risks offending those Trump-friendly voters.
Mr. DeSantis did seem to walk that line successfully during a weekend trip to Iowa, part of a monthslong string of political events he has attended around the country in the run-up to his announcement.
On Saturday, a grinning Mr. DeSantis showed up Mr. Trump by making an unexpected appearance in Des Moines, not far from where the former president had canceled a rally that night because of potential bad weather. “It’s a beautiful night,” the governor said in an apparent jab at the absence of storms.
It is still unclear where or when Mr. DeSantis plans to hold a formal rally announcing his candidacy.